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December 3, 2019 - 4:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, crime, news, notify, corfu, bergen, Le Roy.

Jerrol Paul Newell, 50, of East Main Street, Corfu, (photo above) is charged with: three counts of second-degree strangulation (Class D felonies); unlawful imprisonment in the first degree (Class E felony); and two Class A misdemeanors -- second-degree menacing -- displaying a weapon or dangerous instrument, and third-degree assault. At 7:50 a.m. on Nov. 29, Newell was arrested after the Genesee County Sheriff's Office investigated a domestic incident that occurred on East Main Street in the Village of Corfu. He was arraigned in Pembroke Town Court and put in Genesee County Jail with bail set at $50,000 cash. The case is still under investigation and additional charges are pending. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jared Swimline, assisted by Deputy Ryan DeLong. The Sheriff's Office was assisted by members of the Corfu Police Department, the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office and the New York State Police.

Mark T. Helm, 38, of State Street, Batavia, (inset photo left) is charged with second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Helm was arrested at 9:41 p.m. on Nov. 24 on State Street after allegedly striking a person, causing serious physical injury, all while in front of four children. Helm was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed without bail. He was due back in city court on Nov. 26. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Joshua Girvin, assisted by Officer Wesley Rissinger.

Kiha S. McNear, 22, of Lake Street, Le Roy, (inset photo right) is charged with: criminal mischief -- intentionally damaging property; second-degree criminal contempt; aggravated criminal contempt -- previous conviction; and second-degree burglary -- illegally entering a dwelling. McNear was arrested at 9:35 p.m. on Nov. 25 at a resident on Walnut Street in the City of Batavia. He allegedly entered the residence of a person who has an order of protection against him and damaged some of the person's property. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court on Nov. 26 and is due back in court on Dec. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer Miah Stevens.

Above photo taken after the arrest of Colby J. Swain, courtesy of NYS Police -Troop A, Batavia.

Colby J. Swain, 34, of Amherst, was arrested Nov. 30 by New York State Police and charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree ("loaded firearm other than a person’s home"), a Class C felony, and criminal possession of marijuana in the third degree, a Class E felony. Swain was stopped at 1:45 p.m. on I-90 in the Town of Batavia for a vehicle and traffic violation. During the interview, troopers determined there was "probable cause to search the vehicle." A duffle bag which was locked with a combination lock was located inside the vehicle. Swain allegedly refused to cooperate with the investigation, which result in the troopers obtaining a search warrant for the bag. "Inside the bag that Swain claimed ownership of, was over 11 ounces of marijuana and a loaded Smith and Wesson M&P .45-caliber pistol with an 8-round magazine" (in photo above). Swain did not possess a pistol permit. Swain was arraigned before the Town of Batavia Court and released under the supervision of Genesee County Probation. No return court date is available at this time.

Justin P. Mcgirr, 37, of Ross Street, Batavia, and Jeremiah T. Jones, age and address not provided, are charged with disorderly conduct by way of fighting/violent behavior. They were arrested on Ross Street after they were allegedly observed in a physical fight by police at 1:07 p.m. on Nov. 23. They were issued appearance tickets and were due in Batavia City Court at 1 p.m. today (Dec. 3). The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Joshua Girvin, assisted by Officer Stephen Quider.

Jonathan Brice White, 27, of Buffalo Street, Bergen, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. White was arrested at 3:15 p.m. on Nov. 13 after he allegedly repeatedly violated a full stay away order of protection by contacting the protected party. After his arraignment in Batavia City Court, he was jailed on $1,000 bail, cash or bond. He was due back in city court Nov. 26. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Felicia DeGroot, assisted by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Raylynne M. Santiago, 20, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment and obstruction of governmental administration. Batavia Police Officer Peter Post arrested Santiago following a domestic incident reported at 12:50 a.m. on Nov. 24 in the vicinity of Jackson and Maple streets in the city. She was due in Batavia City Court at 1:30 p.m. today (Dec. 3). Post was assisted by Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

Daniel S. Kuczka, 75, of Walden Creek Drive, Batavia, is charged with trespassing. He was arrested after a trespass complaint was made at 11:35 a.m. on Nov. 20 at the Richmond Memorial Library on Ross Street in the city. He was due in Batavia City Court this afternoon (Dec. 3) to answer the charge. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Ross D. Rahn, 24, of Main Street, Le Roy, is charged with: stopping on a highway; moving from lane unsafely; and driving while ability impaired. At 1:28 a.m. on Dec. 2, Batavia police responded to a call of a vehicle parked crossways across the roadway on West Main Street near Vernon Avenue in the city. Rahn was subesquently arrested, issued appearance tickets, and is due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 18. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

Zachary J. Marrow, 28, of Manhattan Avenue, Batavia, is charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated -- a BAC of .18 percent of more, and DWI -- first offense. Marrow was arrested at 12:31 a.m. on Nov. 16 on East Main Street in Batavia. He is due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 11. The case was handled by Bataiva Police Officer Miah Stevens, assisted by Officer Arick Perkins.

Gregory F. Frieday, 34, of Osterhout Avenue, Batavia, is charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. On Nov. 17, Genesee County Sheriff's deputies responded to a complaint of criminal mischief for a broken exterior window at Batavia Downs. Following an investigation, it is alleged that Frieday broke an exterior window on the south side of the building. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Town of Batavia Court on Dec. 19. The case was handled by Deputy Brock Cummins, assisted by Deputy James Stack.

Melynda M. Gayhart, 31, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, was arrested on Nov. 25 on a bench warrant out of Batavia City Court. This stems from a larceny incident which occurred on Feb. 17 on East Main Street in Batavia. After her arraignment in city court, she was released and is due back in court on Dec. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Nicole McGinnis.

December 2, 2019 - 6:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Grand Jury, batavia, bergen, Oakfield, Alabama, Le Roy.

Donald J. Frisby is indicted for the crime of first-degree sexual abuse, a Class D violent felony. It is alleged that on July 14 on Clay Street in the Town of Le Roy that Frisby subjected another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion.

Morgan L. Cox Jr. is indicted for the crime of menacing a police officer, a Class D violent felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 28 in the City of Batavia that Cox intentionally place or attempted to place a police officer in reasonable fear of physical injury or serious physical injury or death by displaying a knife while the officer was performing his duties. In count two, Cox is accused of first-degree menacing, a Class E felony, for allegedly intentionally placing another person in fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a dangerous instrument -- a knife. In count three, Cox is accused of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a Class D felony, for allegedly intentionally using a dangerous instrument -- a knife -- against another person. In count four, Cox is accused of obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count four that Cox intentionally obstructed, impaired or prevented a public servant from performing his duties, or tried to do so, by means of intimidation, physical force or interference or an unlawful act. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Cox is accused of having been convicted of second-degree menacing, a Class A misdemeanor, in the City of Batavia (date not provided) and that conviction forms the basis of counts two and three in the current indictment.

Steven M. Lindner is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony. It is alleged that on June 18 in the City of Batavia that Lindner knowingly and unlawfully possessed a narcotic drug -- cocaine -- with intent to sell it. In count two, he is accused of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, also a Class B felony. It is alleged in count two that the defendant possessed a narcotic drug -- fentanyl -- with intent to sell it. In count three, Lindner is accsued of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, a Class D felony, for allegedly possessing cocaine in an amount weighing 500 milligrams or more. In counts four and five, respectively, the defendant is accused of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly possessing controlled substances unlawfully -- fentanyl and alprazolam. In count six, he is accused of unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree, a violation.

Carey Culverhouse is indicted for the crime of first-degree assault, a Class B violent felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 2, 2017 in the City of Batavia that Culverhouse intentionally seriously injured another person by means of a dangerous instrument -- a knife.

Dalton C. Kelly is indicted for the crime of second-degree assault, a Class D violent felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 18 on Chase Park in the City of Batavia that Kelly intentionally caused physical injury to another person by means of a dangerous instrument (not specified). In count two, Kelly is accused of second-degree menacing, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly intentionally placing a person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death, or attempting to do so, by displaying a dangerous instrument (unspecified).

Kevin J. Weber is indicted for the crime of second-degree assault, a Class D violent felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 19 on Judge Road in Alabama that Weber intentionally caused serious physical injury to another person. In count two, he is accused of third-degree menacing, a Class B misdemeanor, for allegedly placing, or attempting to place, a person in fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury by means by physical menace.

Shonje K. Jefferson is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony. It is alleged that on June 27 in the City of Batavia that Jeffereson knowingly and unlawfully possessed a narcotic drug -- cocaine -- with intent to sell it. In count two, Jefferson is accused of unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree, a violation.

Darius L. Jones and Trevon L. Armstrong are indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, a Class C armed violent felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 2 in the City of Batavia that they possessed a loaded firearm, an Amadeo Rossi .38-caliber revolver. In count two Jones and Armstrong are accused of second-degree criminal contempt, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count two that on Oct. 2 they intentionally disobeyed or resisted the lawful process or mandate of a court. In count three, they are accused of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly knowingly acting in manner likely to be injuious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than 17 years old. In count four, they are accused of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly possessing acetaminophen / oxycodone hydrochloride. In count five, they are accused of unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation. In count six, Jones is accused of exposure of a person, a violation, for allegedly appearing in a public place in a manner that exposed his body's private parts.

Louis C. Restivo is indicted for the crime of second-degree assault, a Class D violent felony. It is alleged that on July 13 in the Town of Bergen that Restivo intentionally caused physical injury to another person by means of a dangerous instrument (unspecified).

Jon N. Roblee is indicted for the crime of menacing in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 29 in the City of Batavia that Roblee intentionally placed another person in fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a dangerous instrument -- a metal pipe. In count two, Roblee is accused of obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count two that he intentionally obstructed, impaired or prevented a public servant from performing his duties, or tried to do so, by means of intimidation, physical force or interference or an unlawful act. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Roblee is accused of having been convicted of the crime of second-degree menacing, a Class A misdemeanor, on Nov. 7, 2011 and that conviction was within 10 years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

Ernest D. Lane is indicted for the crime of aggravated family offense, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on April 8 at an apartment on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia that Lane that intentionally disobeyed or resisted the lawful process or mandate of a court -- a valid stay away order of protection issued March 28 in Batavia City Court. He did so by allegedly being at the home of the protected party. In count two, Lane is accused of criminal contempt in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly being at the home of the protected party that day. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Lane is accused of having been convicted of the crime of third-degree menacing against members of the same household and a special offense because the conviction was within the last five years -- on Jan. 18, 2018.

Katrina L. Gerace is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on June 3 in the Town of Elba that Gerace drove a 2012 Mini Cooper on Route 262 while intoxicated. In count two, Gerace is accused for aggravated DWI per se, also a Class D felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .18 percent or more at the time. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Gerace is accused of having been convicted of driving under the influence or alcohol or a controlled substance, as a misdemeanor, "Highest Rate of Alcohol .16 percent BAC or higher," on Dec. 8, 2014 in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Pa., and that conviction was within 10 years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

Jay W. Schafer is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a firearm, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on June 19 in the City of Batavia that Schafer possessed a Smith and Wesson, Model 10, .38-caliber Special revolver.

Adam M. Kreutz is indicted for the crime of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that at an address on Fisher Road in Oakfield on June 22 that Keutz presented a supporting deposition to a public servant, knowing that the document contained a false statement or false information and that it would become part of the official records. In count two, he is accused of falsifying business records in the first degree, also a Class E felony. It is alleged in count two that on June 22 at an address on Fisher Road in the Town of Oakfield that he intentionally tried to defraud or make a false entry in the business records of an enterprise. This was allegedly done by providing a supporting deposition that attempted to conceal the commission of reckless driving.

November 29, 2019 - 1:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, bergen.

Daniel John Wolfe, 46, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt in the second degree. It is alleged that on Nov. 25 while housed in Genesee County Jail, Wolfe made two phone calls to a protected party in violation of an order of protection. He was arrested on the charge on Nov. 28 and issued an appearance ticket. Wolfe is due in Batavia City Court at 1 p.m. on Dec. 10. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Chad Cummings.

Sean Michael Crowe, 30, of Cook Road, Bergen, is charged with: driving while intoxicated with a BAC of .08 percent or more with a previous conviction within 10 years; DWI with a previous conviction within 10 years; and having an uninspected motor vehicle. Crowe was arrested at 12:59 a.m. Nov. 28 on South Lake Avenue in Bergen following a traffic stop for an uninspected motor vehicle. Crowe is due in Bergen Town Court on Dec. 4. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack, assisted by Sgt. Jason Saile.

November 27, 2019 - 7:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia, notify, criminal justice.

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Changes in state law about when and how defense attorneys receive evidence in criminal cases are going to create a greater burden on police and drive up costs for the City and the County, members of the City Council were told Monday night.

City Attorney George Van Nest and Police Chief Shawn Heubusch made about a 40-minute presentation on changes to the rules around what is called "discovery" -- the prosecution turning over evidence and information to the defense -- and bail reform.

"What happened is the legislature passed, and the governor signed, a new form of Section 245 of that criminal procedure law," Van Nest said. "What it did is dramatically change the manner in which criminal discovery is handled in New York State effective January 1, 2020."

Under the current system, once a defendant is charged, a defense attorney would file a motion for discovery and the District Attorney would provide information and evidence the DA felt compelled to disclose under criminal procedure law and case law. This would happen over the course of the criminal proceeding including right up to the day of a trial if there was a trial.

The new law requires "automatic discovery" of everything related to the case within 15 days of the arraignment of the defendant. 

This new automatic discovery must include everything related to the case, including all information on witnesses or anybody with information relevant to the case, all written statements, all recordings in police possession or that the police know about, information on all physical evidence, and recordings of relevant 9-1-1 calls and dispatch.

Police officers and detectives will have only days to compile and deliver the evidence and information to the DA's office to give the DA's office time to index and inventory it and prepare it for disclosure to the defendant's attorney.

Both the compressed time frame of gathering and preparing the evidence for dissemination and the greater volume of information and evidence will consume more time for law enforcement and the DA's office.

In the case of traffic tickets -- the city issues about 1,500 a year --  all evidence must be turned over within 24 hours of the issuance of the ticket.

"This increases the workload of our officers and detectives and supervisors and our clerical staff," Heubusch said. "Officers and detective are going to be mandated to complete all paperwork and supporting documentation on a condensed schedule. What that equals is officers may be required to work overtime or maybe taken off of proactive police patrols in our community to make sure that we meet these timeframes so we don't lose any cases."

To help deal with the increased workload, the DA's office is adding another assistant district attorney, another paralegal and a part-time clerk.

Heubusch did not ask for additional personnel in his department but did note that the part-time clerk who handled evidence will now be needed on a full-time basis.

As for bail reform, Heubusch said starting Jan. 1, people accused of misdemeanors or Class E felonies will no longer be arraigned in City Court. The arresting officer, instead, must issue an appearance ticket. The officer must also issue appearance tickets, rather than taking the suspect in for arraignment, for second-degree burglary 2nd and second-degree robbery, all other violent felonies are still eligible for a bail review by a judge.

Types of criminal accusations that will require an appearance ticket include bail jumping, resisting arrest, vehicular assault, menacing, and criminal contempt (unless it's part of a domestic violence case).

Exceptions to the no-bail rules include cases involving members of the same household, a failure to identify oneself properly, a failure to appear in the previous two years, and cases where the defendant could have a driver's license suspended or revoked.

If a judge is going to set bail, the judge must set it as the least restrictive option. In most cases, this means release on own recognizance or release under supervision.

November 27, 2019 - 5:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, bergen.
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       Torres-Acevedo

There is a potential plea offer pending for Guillermo J. Torres-Acevedo, the 23-year-old Batavia man facing 10 criminal charges locally for allegedly having sex with an underage girl and taking her to Pennsylvania, his attorney told Judge Charles Zambito in County Court today. 

Attorney Thomas Burns asked for time to go over the terms of the plea offer from First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini and also confer with Torres-Acevedo's attorney representing him in Federal Court on charges stemming from some of the same incidents.

Zambito deferred the case until 11:30 a.m., Dec. 6.

Torres-Acevedo is charged locally with: four counts of second-degree rape, a Class D violent felony; four counts of criminal sexual act in the second degree, also a Class D violent felony; second-degree kidnapping, a Class B violent felony; and second-degree criminal contempt.

In Federal Court, he is charged with transporting a minor across state lines for sexual activity. 

Authorities allege that in September, October, and November of last year, Torres-Acevedo engaged in sex acts with a teenage girl and then took her across state lines. He was eventually located with the girl in a Walmart in Mansfield, Pa., through a geolocation ping of her mobile phone.

Neither Burns nor Cianfrini revealed in open court the terms of the potential plea agreement nor was there any mention of whether Torres-Acevedo has an opportunity for a plea agreement in Federal Court.

The defendant is currently being held in the Genesee County jail.

November 26, 2019 - 5:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Alabama, batavia, Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

Justin P. McGirr, 37, of Ross Street, Batavia, and Jeremiah T. Jones, no age or address provided, are charged with disorderly conduct by way of fighting/violent behavior. They were arrested on Ross Street at 1:07 p.m. on Nov. 23 after Batavia police allegedly observed them fighting. Both were issued appearance tickets and are due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 3. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Joshua Girvin, assisted by Officer Stephen Quider.

Timothy Allen Zorn, 28, of Hall Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment. Batavia Police Officer Peter Post arrested Zorn on the charges at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 on Hall Street following a domestic dispute. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and released under supervision. Zorn is due to return to court on Dec. 4. Officer Peter Flanagan assisted in the arrest.

Katrina Lynn Drake, 29, of Locust Street, Lockport, is charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief. Drake was arrested after a domestic incident that occurred at 2:20 a.m. on Nov. 21 on Maple Street in Batavia. Drake allegedly damaged property. She is due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Mitchell Cowen, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

Susan Marie Devault, 49, of North Main Street, Holley, is charged with petit larceny. She was arrested on Nov. 25. She is accused of stealing a carton of cigarettes at a store on Bloomingdale Road on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation at 9:92 p.m. on Nov. 17. She was issued an appearance ticket for Dec. 11 in Alabama Town Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jared Swimline, assisted by Sgt. Ronald Meides.

Matthew J. Florian, 31, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with failure to appear. He was arrested Nov. 21 on a bench warrant out of Batavia City Court for failing to appear as scheduled on July 23. He was released on his own recognizance. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Wesley Rissinger, assisted by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

November 26, 2019 - 5:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in deer committee, deep population, batavia, news, notify.

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If the City of Batavia is going to address the concerns of some residents about an apparent deer overpopulation, an expert told the City Council on Monday night, the solution will require study and consideration and will need to be an ongoing effort for many years to come.

"It's not something you can just do once," said Susan D. Booth-Binczik (top photo), a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. "The deer are not going to stop doing what they do. They're not going to go away. Whatever you do, you have to do it year after year. Otherwise, you're going to end up right back where you started."

City Council President Eugene Jankowski said the city will soon appoint members to a committee to study the issue and come up with a plan for the city to pursue.

Deer become a problem, Booth-Binczik said, when the populations in certain areas become too large. Besides destroying property and presenting a road hazard, they upset the balance of the natural habitat.

And population centers are a natural place for deer herds to grow and become comfortable.

"Deer do really well living with us -- they're in our neighborhoods because we've created sort of deer habitat," Booth-Binczik said. "There's plenty of food, a lot of it in our yards and gardens. There's plenty of the edge they like because we like patches of forest mixed in with our lawns and golf courses and there isn't a lot of mortality."

If there isn't a mortality rate of at least 30 percent per year, deer populations will grow, and left unchecked, a deer population in a particular area will double in size very two to three years.

Killing deer, preferably does, may be the most effective way to reduce the deer population.

Solutions range from efforts to encourage or enable hunting to culling.

Culling involves allowing hunters to kill deers outside the regular hunting regulations, such as out-of-season, at night, and with bait.

Or the city could become the lead agency -- or allow another organization to be it -- and work out rules and guidelines for hunters so hunters could more easily go after deer in and around the city. This would mean getting permission from property owners for hunters to go on their land to either hunt or retrieve dead deer.

"What the municipality can increase residents' comfort level with -- the idea of hunting in the community -- is to run what's called a controlled hunt," Booth-Binczik said. "This is just a way to formalize the ability of the local landowners have to set restrictions on hunters that they allow on their property."

Typically these programs only allow hunters to kill does but since most hunters want bucks for the trophy of antlers, the city could provide a hunter with a permit to kill a buck after first killing two or three does as an incentive to first hunt does.

Thinning deer herds is important not just for community residents, Booth-Binczik said, but for the entire ecosystem.

"They essentially eat all of the plants on the forest floor," she said. "So they reduce plant diversity by destroying habitat. They reduce wildlife diversity. And they also threaten the future existence of the forest because when a big tree dies and falls, there's nothing to replace it because the deer have eaten all the baby trees."

November 26, 2019 - 2:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Durin Rogers, news, notify, batavia.

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More than 2 1/2 hours after the scheduled start time for a hearing a motion on allegations that Durin Rogers, City Court judge and assistant county attorney, has a conflict of interest in a Family Court matter, a reporter from The Batavian was denied access to hear arguments in the case.

Erin P. DeLabio, a judge from Erie County handling the motion after Judge Eric Adams recused himself, wouldn't even allow the reporter into the courtroom to make an argument for public transparency on the motion or grant a motion to delay the case until the reporter could obtain legal counsel. 

A deputy said DeLabio said that the motion was part of a sensitive matter.

According to a legal expert we consulted, Family Court is open to the public though individuals can be excluded from sensitive cases based on a finding supported by evidence. A motion about the attorneys in the case is not sensitive to the attorneys and the legal guardian of any children involved can consent to the presence of third-party observers.

There's no indication that DeLabio based her decision to exclude the press, and thwart public transparency of a case involving a fellow member of the judiciary, on any evidence nor that the legal guardian of the minors was consulted as to their position on a reporter being present for only the motion portion of the case.

Last month, attorney Thomas Burns filed a motion seeking to have Rogers removed from a Family Court case because of what Burns perceives as a conflict of interest.

The motion alleges that Rogers -- as a sitting, part-time Batavia City Court judge, with Burns' client also facing criminal charges in City Court -- has an apparent conflict of interest because Rogers has access to City Court documents and his position means he tries cases with other members of the county's criminal justice system who might also be involved in both cases. 

"As this court is certainly aware, and as DCA Rogers should be aware," Burns wrote in his motion, "a judge is obligated to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge's activities and a judge is obligated to respect and comply with the law and is obligated to act at all times in a manner that promotes the confidence of the public in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary," Burns wrote in his motion. "As this court is also aware, the judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all of the judge's other activities."

In a response to The Batavian for publication of the original story (see link above), Rogers denied there was a conflict of interest.

Photo: Taken of Erie County Judge Erin P. DeLabio from outside Genesee County Family Court through the doorway window.

November 25, 2019 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
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       Daniel Wolfe

Despite holding police officers at bay for 20 hours a week ago, despite a prior felony conviction, despite alleged mental health and substance abuse issues, under the state's new bail reform rules, Daniel Wolfe could have gotten out of jail today at no cost.

Judge Charles Zambito was only able to set bail in the case because Wolfe allegedly violated a stay-away order of protection by twice trying to contact his girlfriend, whom he allegedly abused Nov. 18 before barricading himself in his apartment at 209 Liberty St., Batavia.

Without the allegation of those phone calls, Zambito would have been forced to release Wolfe under terms of the new bail standards.

The new bail reform guidelines -- designed primarily to address pretrial confinement issues in New York City -- don't take effect until Jan. 1. But First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini made her request for bail under the new rules because otherwise Wolfe would be entitled to a bail review Jan. 1, when he's still likely to be in pretrial status awaiting further court proceedings in his case.

In setting the amount of bail, Zambito was allowed to consider other factors in the case that indicate Wolfe's potential to flee the court's jurisdiction. These include: the 20-hour standoff; the potential for a harsher sentence because of Wolfe's 2012 felony conviction; his potential for untreated mental health and substance abuse issues; and the fact he has a relative in Alaska, where he lived for a while in 2012.

Zambito also could take into account the fact that Wolfe doesn't have an apparent place to live now that his apartment is destroyed, though he also needed to consider Wolfe's inability to pay cash bail because he isn't employed.

Zambito set bail at $10,000 cash, $25,000 insurance bond, or $50,000 partially secured bond. Cianfrini requested $25,000 cash bail and Public Defender Jerry Ader requested $5,000 bail.

Previously:

November 25, 2019 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, business, batavia, Della Penna Building, notify.

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Developer Sam Savarino heads into the holiday season optimistic that once the weather clears in the spring he will finally be able to begin construction on Ellicott Station -- the restaurant/brewery, apartment, and office complex on the former Della Penna and Santy properties on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia.

Savarino said within days, once the application window is open, Savarino Companies will submit an application for funding assistance to the state's Home and Community Renewal agency and he expects a determination to be reached in January sometime.

It was good news last week, he said, when he learned that the Department of Environmental Conservation had opened public comment period for expedited remediation of environmental contamination at the sites.

Work will begin with cleanup of contamination followed by demolition of a portion of the main Della Penna building (the front part) and the rest of the buildings on the two sites. Then construction of the restaurant and brewery for Resurgence Brewing Company in Buffalo will begin.

If all goes according to schedule, the total project -- including office space and 55 apartments -- will be completed in October 2021.

There's a significant change in the funding plan. Savarino initially intended to finance the $19 million project (now $1.4 million more than the earlier estimates) using a federal program known as the New Market Tax Credit, where investors could get a tax break for backing the project.

Savarino said the timing of the project no longer favors using the New Market Tax Credit program.

He said, "a lot more of my money" is going into the construction of the multi-use complex to ensure the project is fully financed.

November 22, 2019 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ken's Charcoal Pits, batavia, downtown, business, notify.

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The owner of Bourbon & Burger Co. and The Coffee Press, Derek Geib, has acquired Ken's Charcoal Pits from local businessman Ken Mistler.

"Essentially, Kenny was just at the point where he wanted to sell and I was at the point where it made sense," Geib said.

What attracted Geib to the property was its location and its unique amenities, such as a first-class downstairs banquet facility, a brick pizza oven, an outdoor, all-season patio, and the walk-in food counter at the front of the building.

"Kenny's put a ridiculous amount of money and time into this location," Geib said. "It's got access on Main Street and from the parking lot, beautiful downstairs banquet space, the outdoor patio, which is unlike any other in Batavia. I mean, he's got one-of-kind pizza, the charcoal pit that's in the front. There was just there's so much potential in this space and in Kenny's put it in a position to be very successful."

Mistler purchased the building a few months after the former South Beach Restaurant closed its doors suddenly in 2009. He operated the restaurant as South Beach for a short time and then changed the name to City Slickers. About a year ago, he changed the name to Ken's Charcoal Pits.

Geib isn't ready to announce the new name of the restaurant and said that while the main restaurant menu will change, the pizza and charcoal pits will remain the same.

"We'd like to have this all done early next year, which is very aggressive," Geib said.

Mistler owns several other downtown properties, including the former Genesee Bank building at Jackson and Main and the former Carr's building. We couldn't reach him late this afternoon for comment but Geib said Mistler will still be around. He's offered to continue to help with the business and he enjoys cooking pizza.

Previously:

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November 22, 2019 - 3:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, notify, crime, Alabama.

Cynthia M. Mack, 52, of South Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with first-degree criminal contempt and third-degree assault. Mack was arrested at about 8 p.m. on Nov. 15 after an incident at a residence on South Swan Street. She allegedly punched a person in the face, causing a laceration. Mack has an order of protection against her. She was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed without bail. She was due to return to court on Nov. 18. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jordan McGinnis, assisted by Officer Wesley Rissinger.

Christina Elaine Taylor, 38, of South Academy Street, Medina, is charged with driving while intoxicated and speeding -- exceeding 55 mph. She was arrested at 12:50 a.m. on Nov. 21 on Alleghany Road in Alabama following a traffic stop. Taylor was issued appearance tickets and is due in Alabama Town Court on Dec. 18. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jordan Alejandro, assisted by Deputy Austin Heberlein.

November 22, 2019 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, batavia, business, notify.

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There's some progress to report on the development of Ellicott Station though the finish line for the project isn't yet clearly in sight.

This week, the Department of Environmental  Conservation opened a public comment period for an expedited cleanup of contamination at the Ellicott Station Site, 40-52 Ellicott St., which is part of the Brownfield Cleanup Program. 

The comment period is open through Dec. 20. 

City Manager Martin Moore explained this afternoon that the fact that the DEC has opened an expedited comment period means that the developer, Savarino Companies, has requested permits for the cleanup work, which the DEC states will take place this winter.  

Still pending for Savarino is the final piece of the puzzle of a complex financing plan that includes support from Homes and Community Renewal, a state agency. 

An application for assistance was turned down last year and the application process this year ends in December. It's unclear how long it will take for Savarino to get a response on the application.

"To his credit," Moore said, "he hired a consultant experienced in working with Homes and Community Renewal."

Sam Savarino did not respond to a text message sent to him earlier today asking for an update on the project.

The vast majority of financing for the $17.6 million project will come from private funds, either Savarino's own money or investment by private institutions individuals through the New Markets Tax Credit Program. To be financially viable on a brownfield site in an economically distressed neighborhood, the project needs state assistance and tax abatements through the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Once completed, Ellicott Station is expected to add 68 full-time equivalent jobs in the community and will include the construction of 99,000 square feet of brewery, restaurant and beer garden, plus a five-story apartment building with 55 apartments and office space.

For previous coverage, click here. For details on the site cleanup and the public comment period, click here (pdf).

November 22, 2019 - 2:40pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Liberty Street, notify.

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Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski has reached out to David Zanghi and his sister and advocate, Mary Ellen Wilber, in an attempt to get them in touch with emergency relief agencies after Zanghi’s life was disrupted earlier in the week.

Jankowski said today that he has met with Zanghi and talked on the phone to Wilber, and pledged the City’s support in finding the assistance Zanghi needs as a result of the 20-hour standoff at his Liberty Street residence on Monday and Tuesday.

“I’ve spoken to the City (management) and to Mr. Zanghi and they definitely want to put him in touch with agencies that can provide assistance,” Jankowski said. “It’s the same as with a major fire … we need to provide that connection.”

On Thursday, Zanghi informed The Batavian that his downstairs apartment at 209 Liberty St. and his personal belongings were extensively damaged from tear gas canisters fired by police. Subsequently, he has been displaced from his apartment and currently is staying with a relative.

A dialysis patient, Zanghi also said his medications were compromised during the ordeal, which saw Daniel Wolfe hold police at bay throughout the night as he barricaded himself inside his upstairs apartment with a pellet (BB) gun and a sword.

The situation ended around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when Wolfe surrendered to City Police.

Jankowski noted that Zanghi is “obviously in poor health and needs some help.”

“Let’s help him get the help he needs and help Mary Ellen navigate the system,” he said. “She is coming into town this weekend and we’ve set up an appointment for her to meet with the City Manager (Martin Moore) and Assistant City Manager (Rachael Tabelski)."

Jankowski said that Wilber was “very receptive” to his call.

“She is a longtime civil servant and is acquainted with the system,” he said. “We will give her all the help we can as we would do anybody else in this situation.”

The council president said that agencies such as Genesee Justice, Veterans Services and Social Services are out there to assist victims of incidents such as this, and noted that law enforcement could provide the names of other organizations that could help out.

He also said that City Police did provide Zanghi with some phone numbers of agencies that could provide assistance, but said communication broke down after that.

“It was confusing to us since he never contacted us directly,” he said. “We were taken back a bit by the published report (in The Batavian).

Earlier today, Council Member Rose Mary Christian, who represents the Sixth Ward (which includes Liberty Street), weighed in on the matter – saying that she sympathized with Zanghi’s plight while also opining that contemporary society has made it difficult for the police.

“It’s very unfortunate what happened to him – he is a good person for that area -- but it could happen to anybody,” she said. “Any place, any time. That’s why it’s extremely important to have renter’s insurance.”

Christian went on to say that today’s “politically correct” climate has tied law enforcement’s hands.

“Our society has done this. In years past, maybe even 10 years ago, if there was a problem like that, (police) would knock down that door, grab him and have him arrested,” she said. “Today, the liberals would just question what happened here and (say), ‘Oh, the poor guy.’ ”

“That’s nonsense. The legal system doesn’t have a shot in hell.”

As far as 45-year-old Wolfe is concerned, he currently is in Genesee County Jail without bail, facing five charges, including three felonies. His case has been adjourned until Dec. 12.

November 21, 2019 - 4:23pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia PD, city council, batavia, notify.

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A longtime Batavia resident is calling upon the City of Batavia to take responsibility for “destroying my home and hindering me mentally and physically” in the aftermath of Monday’s 20-hour standoff at his Liberty Street residence.

“I am a victim of this,” said David Zanghi, 66, who lives in the downstairs apartment at 209 Liberty St. “The only ones who caused damage to my house were the police. They were very non-caring.”

Zanghi was forced to evacuate his downstairs apartment when City Police responded to a domestic disturbance call around 1:18 p.m. Monday.

According to dispatch reports, the caller said an intoxicated male hit a female and was in possession of a sword.

When police arrived, they saw that the male, later identified as Daniel Wolfe, 45, had barricaded himself inside his apartment upstairs and began shooting at officers with a pellet (BB) rifle.

The standoff continued until around 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday, finally coming to an end when Wolfe exited the residence and surrendered to City Police Det. Sgt. Kevin Czora.

During the standoff, City Police were assisted by several other agencies, including the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; Orleans County SWAT; State Police troopers; negotiators; drone unit; K-9 unit; and SORT teams; the NYS DEC K-9 Unit; Monroe County Crisis Negotiating Team; Genesee County Emergency Management; Genesee County Dispatch Center; City Fire Department; and Mercy EMS.

Wolfe sustained self-inflicted injuries and was transported for treatment to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Currently, he is in Genesee County Jail.

While the suspect faces multiple charges, Zanghi, who is on dialysis waiting a kidney transplant and suffers from emotional and physical ailments, now is staying with a relative in the City due to the damage done to his residence.

“They destroyed my house … busted all the windows, my clothes are shot because of the tear gas. I may be able to get the couch fixed. It’s ridiculous what they did to me,” he said.

Zanghi reported that his landlord, Duane Preston, has promised him another apartment in mid-December.

“Duane has been good to me,” he said. “He even gave me my rent check back for the month.”

Zanghi also said that he is upset that no one from the City has contacted him about the possibility of receiving some victim assistance support, and plans to confront City Council and management at the next City Council meeting on Monday (Nov. 25).

City officials, however, did respond to a request from The Batavian for a comment in light of Zanghi’s grievances.

“While the City sympathizes with Mr. Zanghi as an innocent bystander to the events that unfolded Tuesday, November 18th, there is no specific assistance that the City can offer,” Assistant City Manager Rachael J. Tabelski said.

“In any type of emergency response situation there will be unintended consequences, however the city is not liable for the damage. There are many organizations and individuals that volunteer to help residents in need, and I am hopeful Mr. Zanghi will find relief through these individuals and organizations.”

Zanghi said that his sister, Mary Ellen Wilber, who splits her time between New Jersey and Batavia, will represent him at the meeting.

Contacted by phone this afternoon, Wilber said she is “disgusted” over the City’s lack of action despite being contacted numerous times about Wolfe’s violent behavior.

“I will be there to advocate for my brother, who has called police at least seven times over the past year, year and a half, about this guy,” she said. “He’s an alcoholic who has harmed the woman (girlfriend). All those times David called and it’s all for naught.”

Wilber said law enforcement’s actions have “traumatized” her brother, who is on a fixed income and under the care of the VA Medical Center. 

“He had to go to the hospital to get his medicine because all of his pills, along with his clothes and bedding, were contaminated.

“They shot tear gas canisters into David’s downstairs apartment, knowing the guy was upstairs,” she said. “They destroyed his apartment.”

Wilber said she also questions the way the situation was handled and the cost to the City.

“I was told that the police said they were using this as a tactical exercise,” she said. “It should have never gone on this long. They could have used a Taser instead of attacking him with a dog. The cost to the City is going to be very high. They could have done things in a much better way.”

Photos by Howard Owens.

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David Zanghi points to a window broken by police actions.

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David Zanghi said a CS gas canister apparently exploded in his bedroom. He's pointing to all the medicine on his dresser that the VA had to replace for him. He said he has expensive suits, including a $1,500 tux, that now reek of tear gas and he's not sure they can be properly cleaned.

November 21, 2019 - 11:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, Liberty Street, batavia, notify, crime.
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       Daniel Wolfe

Daniel Wolfe, the man accused of hitting his girlfriend before barricading himself in his apartment on Liberty Street, made a routine follow-up appearance in Batavia City Court this morning.

Wolfe had previously pled not guilty at his initial appearance to charges of first-degree criminal contempt, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, menacing, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd.

Today he was represented by public defender Jerry Ader.

Ader preserved his client's right to a felony hearing at a later date, and said his office is still investigating the case so he has no motions to make at this time. He asked that the case be continued in City Court until Dec. 12.

Judge Robert Balbick granted all of Ader's requests.

Wolfe, shackled and in an orange jail jumpsuit, said nothing while standing before Balbick.

November 20, 2019 - 2:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, news, notify.

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         Daniel Wolfe

Press release:

On Monday, Nov. 18 at approximately 1:18 p.m., the Genesee County Dispatch Center received a domestic call at 209 Liberty St.

The caller reported that an intoxicated male struck a female and the male was in possession of a sword. It was also reported that the female was able to escape the residence.

Officers from the Batavia Police Department arrived on scene and encountered the male, who had barricaded himself inside the residence. The female was located and found safe at a neighbor’s home.

The suspect, who remained inside the house, began shooting at officers with a BB rifle.

Immediately, the Batavia Police Department set up a perimeter around the residence and neighbors were told to shelter in place. The Batavia City School District was informed of the incident so appropriate measures could be taken to ensure the safety of the students, including students attending the Jackson Primary School, located a few blocks away.

Batavia Police negotiators were called to the scene along with the Batavia Police Emergency Response Team (ERT), the New York State Police, and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office / K-9 Unit and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation K-9 Unit.

Negotiators were able to make verbal contact with the suspect who was identified as Daniel Wolfe, 45, who resided at 209 Liberty St. in the upstairs apartment. Wolfe repeatedly told negotiators that he wanted officers to kill him. He refused officers' commands to come out of the house.  

The Genesee County Sheriff’s K-9 handler attempted to send "Frankie" inside to safely take Wolfe into custody. Wolfe then attempted to slash Frankie with a knife, and the handler pulled Frankie back to safety.

Wolfe continued to tell officers throughout the incident that he wanted officers to kill him, and he threatened to shoot officers.

Several options were tried to get Wolfe to surrender that included the launching of chemical agents into the residence and the use of robots/drones to determine where he was in the residence. Other negotiating and swat teams were called in to assist.

After approximately 20 hours, Wolfe exited the residence and surrendered to Detective Sargent Kevin Czora of the Batavia Police Department.

Wolfe was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital for injuries he sustained during the incident. These injuries were self-inflicted. All officers on the scene and civilians in the neighborhood were unharmed during this incident.

Wolfe was later released from Strong hospital, at which time he was arrested by Batavia Police Department on charges of first-degree criminal contempt, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, menacing, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd.

Wolfe was arraigned in Batavia City Court on Nov. 19 and is being held without bail at the Genesee County Jail.  He will reappear in Batavia City Court at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Nov. 21). Additional charges are pending.

The Batavia Police Department would like to thank: the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; Orleans County SWAT; New York State Police troopers; negotiators; drone unit; K-9 unit; and SORT teams; the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation K-9 Unit; Monroe County Crisis Negotiating Team; Genesee County Emergency Management; Genesee County Dispatch Center; City of Batavia Fire Department; Mercy EMS; and the numerous citizens who supported the efforts, both on the scene and in the days following this incident.

Photos: Top photo: still from the video shot yesterday of Wolfe and Det. Kevin Czora and an unidentified plainclothes State Trooper slowly walking Wolfe from the apartment where he had been barricaded to a waiting ambulance. Bottom photo, still from a previously unreleased portion of the video where Wolfe turned to look down the street, and pulled back slightly, as Czora and the trooper tried to coax him into the ambulance.

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November 20, 2019 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, notify, muckdogs.

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Major League Baseball should not end its affiliation with the Batavia Muckdogs, or any of the other 41 minor league teams reportedly on the chopping block without sitting down and listening to local community leaders and minor league executives, Sen. Charles Schumer said during a telephone press conference with Upstate news media today.

"This plan presents some real potential problems for New York State," Schumer said. "We don't know how real it is, but the newspaper reports are very disconcerting. So I am calling today on the MLB and Minor League Baseball to sit down and talk with the community leaders and with team owners to ensure that all the relevant parties can provide feedback and propose constructive solutions before any final decisions are made."

The proposal to eliminate or demote 42 minor league teams is potentially an issue for members of Congress to take up because Major League Baseball enjoys an exemption from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act based on a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1922. Congress has the power to overturn that exemption.

Responding to a question from The Batavian, Schumer declined to comment on how he might respond to any proposal to lift the exemption.

"As for the antitrust exemption, we all know it exists," Schumer said. "Let's see what Major League Baseball has to say. Let's see how quickly and willingly and cooperatively they are willing to sit down with us before we comment on that particular proposal."

The current proposal -- as leaked to The New York Times -- would move 42 teams currently affiliated with major league teams to an independent "Dream League." Schumer acknowledged that it's unclear what MLB means by a "Dream League."

Besides Batavia, teams listed as candidates to lose a major league affiliation are Binghamton, Auburn and Staten Island. Three New York teams -- the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones -- would be promoted to AA leagues. That proposal, Schumer noted, would mean the end of the New York Penn League, founded in Batavia 80 years ago.

Complicating matters for Batavia is that the Muckdogs are now owned by the New York Penn League.

For decades, the Muckdogs were owned by the community, run by the Genesee County Baseball Club with a volunteer board of directors. The team has been perpetually for sale for several years. If it ever were sold, some of the proceeds would be returned to the GCBC.  

Club President Brian Paris said last night that any proceeds from the sale would be used for the community's benefit.

So the Muckdogs are, in the true financial sense of the word, a community asset.

Attempts to reach Ben Hayes, NYPL president, to try and clarify how the MLB proposal might affect this community asset have been unsuccessful.

Schumer said the first order of business is getting MLB to listen to the concerns of the communities affected by this proposal. He is seeking a meeting with MLB Commissioner Rob Manafort, whom Schumer hopes will understand the concerns of Upstate communities because he's originally from Rome. 

Loss of the NYPL would be especially devastating for baseball fans in Upstate New York, Schumer said. The Dream League, whatever that might be, Schumer said, might be a sufficient attraction to make professional baseball viable in Upstate.

"The New York Penn League short-season schedule has been ideal for New York baseball fans," Schumer said. "The games get started in mid-June after the colder spring weather; They last through the hot summer months when baseball's at its best, in my opinion."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has also weighed into the debate defending baseball in Batavia, stating, "If you’re in Batavia or anywhere nearby, you love the Muckdogs. I’ve been to many of their games. I’ve thrown out opening pitches. My husband and I slip in there at least once or twice a year to catch a game, so it’s part of the identity of the community and especially these small towns. I mean Batavia has a lot going for it, but part of it is being associated with a Minor League Baseball team."

Photo: File photo by Jim Burns.

November 19, 2019 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, baseball, sports, notify.

It's early in the negotiations and officials with Minor League Baseball are working hard to save all the minor league ball clubs from the chopping block, a spokesman for Minor League Baseball said this evening.

"The game of baseball is just as important to Batavia and Auburn as it is in Charlotte or Indianapolis," said Jeff Lantz. "We want to see baseball grow and thrive and be a part of all of our communities."

He said it's unfortunate that word leaked that Major League Baseball floated a proposal to eliminate some minor league teams, and even more unfortunate that this week a list of teams MLB is proposing to be cut was leaked. Both Batavia and Auburn were on a list of New York Penn League clubs that could be scrapped if MLB is successful in reducing the number of minor league teams from 160 to 120.

"That's not good for anybody," Lantz said. "It's not good for Minor League Baseball. It's not good for the fans, and it's not good for the fans of Batavia and Auburn."

He said it's early in the process and MLB and its officials are meeting this week to negotiate. They'll meet again at the Winter Meetings in a couple of weeks to try and hammer out a deal.

"We'll find out their (MLB's) concerns," Lantz said. "I don't think there are any concerns that can't be addressed through negotiations and finding out the best way to go."

Asked if MLB holds all the cards, Lantz said, obviously, the Appalachian League (of) MLB owns all the franchises and can do with them as they please, but the rest of the teams have separate owners so their status does become a point of negotiation.

The Batavia Muckdogs are owned by the New York Penn League now, but the team's former owner, a community group -- Genesee County Baseball Club -- would receive a part of the proceeds if NYPL ever sold the club. If the club were sold and moved, members of the club have floated the idea of using the funds to start a baseball team in one of the leagues that provides summer baseball for college-level players.

Lantz referred questions about the team's ownership status and how that might play out in these negotiations to league president Ben Hayes.

The Batavian has been unable to reach Hayes although we've tried for the past couple of weeks.

General Manager Brendan Kelly said he was not authorized to talk about the status of the minor league clubs. We were also unable this evening to reach club President Brian Paris.

That said, Lantz confirmed, there will be a 2020 season for the Muckdogs in Batavia. The current contract between MiLB and MLB runs until Sept. 15, 2020.

"The good news is, that gives us 11 months to try to negotiate a deal," Lantz said.

Lantz said one thing that is helping the cause of Minor League Baseball is politicians speaking out to help save the teams in the communities they represent. He cited specifically a member of Congress from Massachusetts who got more than 100 other members of Congress to sign a petition to send to MLB asking MLB to protect these teams.

Sen. Charles Schumer has come out strongly in favor of keeping ball clubs in Batavia and Auburn.

“America’s favorite pastime should not become part of Upstate New York’s past," Schumer said. "It’s no secret that New York’s minor league teams are institutions within their communities, which is why I implore MLB to reconsider any such plans and will be reaching out to them directly to advocate for our New York teams."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who along with her husband, Bill, is a big fan of the Muckdogs and has attended several games over the years, also sent out a couple of Tweets in support of protecting minor league teams in New York. In one, Hochul wrote, "Foul ball!? @MLB - please say this isn’t so. As the birthplace of baseball and home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, these teams are big economic drivers for our small towns and part of New York’s identity & culture."

UPDATE 8:25 p.m.: Genesee County Baseball Club President Brian Paris said he's had no conversations at this point with Ben Hayes or Minor League Baseball about the future of the Batavia Muckdogs, though he is mindful of the fact that the club has a financial stake in the outcome of negotiations. He noted that Major League Baseball enjoys an antitrust exemption, which could limit the leverage of ball club owners but, citing a Baseball America article, noted that terminating as many as 40 franchises could jeopardize baseball's always tenuous hold on its exemption (which is authorized by Congress). If the Muckdogs are ever sold, Paris noted, it's the intention of the club's board of directors that any proceeds from a sale (about half the value of the club, less operational losses sustained by the NYPL since the league took over) would be used to the benefit the community.

November 19, 2019 - 10:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, batavia, notify.
Video Sponsor

This is video from the standoff on Liberty Street with footage from yesterday afternoon through early this morning.

We will post a second video later that shows the end of the standoff, including exclusive shots of the suspect being led away by Det. Kevin Czora.

The photos below are by Jim Burns.

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